Editors Note: Check out the book Dive-abled: The Leo Morales Story.
Let me say first that I had absolutely nothing to do with Leo Morales‘ world record setting dive. I’m just really impressed by it and with him.
Leo lost most of his right leg to cancer. But he hasn’t lost a step. Last weekend he completed his second world record dive for a person with a disability. He stayed underwater for 8:16 hours and traveled 15.6 kilometers in the marine park in Cozumel, Mexico making it the longest in terms of both time and distance. A year ago, he made a decompression dive to 410 feet to set his first world record dive, the deepest for a person with a disability.
Watch a trailer of the documentary about his world record deep dive.
While his records may have the phrase “with a disability” attached to them, that certainly doesn’t lessen the accomplishments. Obviously, if anything it adds to them. The mental focus necessary to accomplish something like that is phenomenal. He had to maintain his Nautilus rebreather, continually swim, stay warm and alert and concentrate on what he was doing for more than eight hours.
Most divers will never attempt anything like Leo’s dives and that’s fine. The lesson I take from watching Leo, and enjoying his warm, inviting and positive outlook is nothing is impossible. You can’t let anything stand in your way. In interviews, he has described the days after the cancer and the surgery to remove his leg—the surgery saved his life, but he only had an estimated 20 percent chance of surviving—as the darkest days of his life, and a time in which he considered taking his own life. He had given up. With the support of his friends, family and God, he returned to diving and now works as an advocate for the disabled in his native Mexico. His dives aren’t stunts; they are designed to inspire everyone and also to show people with disabilities that they can do anything they set their minds to.
Most of us will never have to face anything nearly as terrible as a surgery to save your life that will probably kill you in the process. Most of us will never have to lose a large portion of our bodies to disease. Yet, too many of us use the words “I can’t” on a too-regular basis.
My most recent work with Diveheart (here, here and here ) and meeting Leo has definitely inspired me. While both have a diving connection, the inspiration isn’t about diving at all. It is about life. From now on, every time I say “I can’t”, I’m going to ask myself why. Would Leo say I can’t? And then I will get up and do it, regardless of what anyone else says.
What are you doing?